Saturday, November 6, 2010

Franklin County Communications Center Part 2

In June 1975 William Sturtavent was appointed Civil Defense Director of Franklin County. At this time most of the bugs had been worked out of the system and the only major problem was to keep the equipment operational and on line. In the summer of 1977 the Communications Center was moved to the second floor of the Chambersburg Trust Company Building due to the home being torn down to make way for a new court house where the communications center will be. Also at this time, due to the increased radio traffic, it was necessary to change the primary dispatch channel, which then gave the fire departments another fire ground channel.

February 1978 saw another change in directors with the appointment of Jere Gonder, a retired federal firefighter, as Civil Defense Director and Communications Director for Franklin County. After Franklin County was alerted and placed on standby for possible relocation of victims from T.M.I., everyone in the Civil Defense staff worked 24 hours a day for over a week, Mr. Gonder started making plans for a new communications center in the court house. January 1980 saw another change when the new communications center became operational. The new center was equipped with a Centracom Series I Console, 7 channel (high band) Med base, single channel police base, Veritech alarm panel and several other features new to Franklin County.

The winter of 1983 was long and cold, and with the increased workload it became necessary for the county commissioners to divide the positions of Emergency Management Agency Director and Communications Director. Robert Nye was then appointed Communications Director, and he set about the task of acquiring additional equipment to streamline the operation and additional personnel to handle the ever-increasing workload. In the summer of 1986 the commissioners agreed to staff the center from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with two full time dispatchers. One man was still on from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In January 1987 the center was staffed 24 hours per day with two dispatchers.

Due to poor communications in the southern end of the county, the commissioners approved $130,000 to purchase a Med 10 base, township, fire channel 1 and 3 and police 1 and 3 microwaves for a tower site located at Ft. Richie. This new tower site greatly enhanced the centers capability of communicating with units in the southern and of the county especially the Blue Ridge Summit and Mercersburg areas.

In 1977 the County Commissioners went on record supporting a county wide 911 communications system, and also appointed several emergency services personnel to study a 911 system with possible implementation. The 911 communications system became the focal point of several elections and in January 1988 after Gerald Flasher was appointed Communications Director under the direction of Phil Tarquino, Emergency Management Agency Director, 911 finally looks to be in the near future for Franklin County residents.

Mr. Flasher started in January 1988 to plan and design a new communications center that would accommodate a 911 system. On September 1, 1988 all the consoles, computers and other essential equipment was moved to a temporary location in the county E.O.C. where it was home for eight months. September 1st the commissioners placed an order for a Motorola Centracom Series II console costing $180,000. At the same time a contract was awarded for $45,000 to completely remodel the communications center which increased the operational area four times what it was. Construction was started on December 1st and was completed on February 14, 1989. The installation of the new consoles started on March 28, 1989 and on May 1 the new center went on line. Some of the features of the new center were a Dictaphone call check system, upgrade internal alarm system, Com Centrics phone system with automatic dialer's, phone patch system, new alerting tones that differentiate between medical, rescue and fire emergencies. The system is computer operated and offers streamlines dispatching that is almost infallible. Although the bugs are still being worked out at this time the commissioners, Mr. Flasher, the dispatchers and the public of Franklin County have a new communications center that would make any Comm. Center Director green with envy.

Presently plans and negotiations are under way with the United Telephone Company to install and implement a 911 system in Franklin County, which has proved to be invaluable to persons in need all over the country.

As stated yesterday this article is reprinted exactly as it appeared in the CVVFA convention book in 1989. I did not check to verify the facts. Eventually I should pull the books from 1989 to present and update this entry to the present. As with the photographs sent to me if anyone out there would like to type an article to be posted on this site just do so and send it to me, when a day comes around that I have nothing to post I would be more than happy to post it. Also if anyone out there has anything to add to this please leave it in the comment sections, there is a few of you out there that were around for this and have a first hand account that could shed some more light on the subject.


Sparky said...

Great history lesson. Love the site.

Anonymous said...

Very nice series, Brad. I still remember using the old Civil Defense unit numbers, C-101, 102 etc.